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Travel to Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi is the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the second-largest Vietnamese city after Ho Chi Minh City ( Saigon ).

It has an estimated population of 7.7 million as of 2018, and with the metropolitan area included arises to 16 million.

Located in the central area of the Red River Delta, Hanoi is the commercial, cultural, and educational center of Northern Vietnam.

The capital of Vietnam is one of the most ancient capitals in the world with over 1000 years of rich history.

Originally founded as Thăng Long, the capital of Imperial Vietnam, in 1010 by monarch Lý Thái Tổ, the city was renamed to its current name Hanoi in 1831. In 1873, Hanoi was conquered by the French, and from 1883 to 1945, the city was the administrative center of French Indochina. The French colonization left a lasting impact on the city's architecture that is visible today.

Following the Japanese occupation (1940 to 1945), the First Indochina War (1946–1954), and the Vietnam War (1955–1975), Hanoi was designated as the capital of a reunified Vietnam in 1976.

Today, Hanoi is a dynamic and thriving city that blends well Eastern and Western influences with remarkably preserved colonial buildings, ancient temples, pagodas, interesting museums, theaters and lively markets.

The city is also known for its cuisine and delicious street food, buzzing nightlife and cultural diversity.

Foreign visitors to Hanoi must be also aware of its crowded streets and hectic traffic where crossing a road can be an adrenaline-fueled experience.

The city's main attractions and places of interest include:

  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Complex

The most iconic and popular attraction of Hanoi is located in the center of Ba Dinh Square.

A place of pilgrimage for many Vietnamese, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex is set in a green garden with a beautiful lake. The complex comprises several buildings - Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House, the Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh Museum and the One Pillar Pagoda.

The Mausoleum serves as the resting place of the Vietnamese Revolutionary leader and President Ho Chi Minh. His embalmed body is laid in a glass case for visitors to pay respect.

The mausoleum was formally inaugurated on August 29, 1975 and it was inspired by Lenin's Mausoleum in Moscow.

The exterior is made of grey granite, while the interior is grey, black and red polished stone.

The Presidential Palace is an opulent restored colonial building, constructed in 1906 as the Palace for the Governor General of Indochina.

Today, the building is used for official receptions and isn’t open to the public.

Also worth a visit is the Stilt House, which served as a home to Ho Chi Minh, and is excellently preserved, and the One Pillar Pagoda. Built of wood on a single stone pillar, the pagoda is designed to resemble a lotus blossom, the symbol of purity, rising out of a sea of sorrow.

This pagoda is a reconstruction of the original 11th-century temple, which was destroyed by French colonial troops.

The Ho Chi Minh Museum is dedicated to the life of the Vietnamese leader and presents information about the history of the Vietnamese Revolution.

  • Temple of Literature

Originally built as a university in 1070 dedicated to Confucius, scholars and sages, today, Temple of literature has become a memorial to education and literature.

It is one of the most remarkable Hanoi's attractions, also known as Confucius temple or Temple of culture.

Inside the ancient site there are buildings from the Ly and Tran dynasties - ornate pavilions and shrines, beautiful pond and a garden, and a well-preserved pagoda where a statue of Confucius sits.

The Temple has become a rite of passage for graduating doctors. Originally the university only accepted aristocrats, the elite and royal family members as students before eventually opening its doors to the larger public.

Near the entrance, you can still see the names of students who studied here, engraved into a series of pillars.

  • Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

This UNESCO World Heritage Site, also known as the Hanoi Citadel, is closely related to Vietnam's history. It is a complex of historic imperial buildings located in the center of Hanoi.

It consists of exhibitions of beautiful pottery and other ancient artifacts, an underground bunker that was used in the Vietnam war or as the Vietnamese call it the American war, a museum, a princess’ pagoda, north and south gates and beautiful gardens.

Many of the artifacts and items dating back to between the 6th and 20th centuries were excavated recently at the archaeological site.

The central place takes Kinh Thien Palace which was built in 1428 and it was where imperial ceremonies and great national affairs were celebrated.

  • Hoan Kiem Lake (Turtle Lake)

Hoan Kiem Lake is a popular place for relaxation among local people and tourists. The splendid surroundings create a perfect background for taking photos.

The major highlight is a small island upon the lake that holds Ngoc Son Temple and is reachable by a beautiful red bridge. Another tiny island on the southern section of the lake holds the stocky Turtle Tower - best viewed from the bridge. The area is also a favorite spot for jogging and Thai Chi practicing.